HotSeat – Simon Atterby, General Manager at Colour Tone Masterbatch

Colour Tone Masterbatch is an innovative company focusing on delivering responsive, high-quality service for bespoke colours, in universal, commodity and engineering polymers, as well as custom additive blends.  Simon Atterby has been General Manager since 2017, following the company’s acquisition by Luxus Ltd, and he is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat.

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics?  How will Colour Tone Masterbatch respond?

From our perspective, the future of UK Plastics is centred around sustainability.

Colour Tone has been at the forefront of work in this area for many years, from:

  • Pioneering the first near-infrared detectable products for post-consumer recycling (which have conservatively already diverted over 5,000 tonnes of plastics away from landfill)
  • Solar heat-reflecting ‘cool’ colourants
  • Solutions to mitigate the effects of weathering
  • Masterbatches based on recycled carriers

Furthermore, we are in a fortunate position in this regard as we are owned by a technical compounder (Luxus) who specialise in incorporating high proportions of recyclate into their technical compounds. This enables us to collaboratively develop sustainable coloured compounds with high percentage recycled content, exacting colours, a low carbon footprint and, where required, an ability to be sorted via infrared for recycling at end of life (e.g. consumer goods).

From our perspective, it is more important than ever that sustainability and end of life considerations are factored into the design of products at the outset; in this regard, we look to work as closely as possible with our customers to support in their product development, right from the design stage wherever possible.

How has Colour Tone Masterbatch developed during your tenure?

In the relatively short period of time I have been with the company, the landscape in which we are operating has changed significantly, in many different ways; increased consumer awareness of plastic, Brexit and changes to legislation including the upcoming packaging tax to name just a few. All of which continue to shape how we work.

To maintain and continually improve our flexibility, productive capacity and the technical services we can offer our customers, we have invested into and commissioned a new production line and numerous pieces of laboratory equipment. The latter of which has enabled us to innovate further and develop new and improved products, several of which we have successfully sought patent protection over.

Our growth aspirations and potential were also recognised when we were accepted onto the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme. Since that time, the programme has provided a range of support and expertise which have assisted us in achieving numerous objectives, including increases in export sales, investment, process improvement and development of our people.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

The key to our success is two-fold:

First and foremost, it lies in our people; we have a fantastic team here down at our site in South Wales, many of whom have decades of invaluable experience in the company and the industry.

Secondly, innovation, something which would not be possible without the above people. We have always endeavoured to find innovative solutions to problems faced by our customers, and are always looking for new opportunities, ways of doing things and partnerships in the industry.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

The unprecedented situation which we all find ourselves in this year has to be right up there in terms of challenges.

Colour Tone has remained open throughout, to do our part in supporting customers in key sectors; medical and food packaging in particular, and we are really proud to have been able to make a contribution.

As we head towards a new normal we have been working exceedingly hard behind the scenes to make preparations and implement a vast range of changes in all areas of the business; from how we maintain our productive flexibility, to how we continue to best support and work with our customers and suppliers in areas from technical support to product development; despite the constraints we all face around social distancing etc.

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?

I think they are probably one and the same;

Whilst there is a huge range of technical concepts, intricacies and complexities in the industry the basic principles of problem-solving and troubleshooting should not be overlooked, i.e. asking plenty of questions (however obvious they may seem) to thoroughly understand the situation and then where necessary only changing one variable at a time when seeking to identify the route cause to a problem; particularly in a production scenario.

In the environment in which we operate, I think we often overlook the amount of problem-solving we undertake on a day to day basis, so I would also recommend to a new apprentice to make sure they look back and take satisfaction in all those things which they have been able to overcome.

What hidden talents do you have?

Not sure they are very well hidden; but I love music and festivals, the latter of which has been sorely missed this year as it was to be my first Glastonbury.

Aside from this, I enjoy being outdoors, whatever the weather, usually accompanied by my cocker spaniel, Isla, who can often also be found frequenting our offices.

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Colour Tone Masterbatch
+44 (0) 2920 888910

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